King’s Lynn Stars’ Rory Schlein relinquishes Elite League Riders’ Championship title on home shale
- Credit: IAN BURT
It was a disappointing meeting for home fans tonight as Troy Batchelor dethroned Elite League Riders' champion Rory Schlein.
King's Lynn's skipper went into the evening's so-called showcase meeting as ELRC holder having won the event in Swindon last year. Yet, despite lifting the individual prize two times in the past three years, the Australian failed to even make the semis on his home Norfolk Arena track.
It was even worse for Stars team-mate Robert Lambert who finished 14th out of 16 having won just one of his five rides. But, at the age of 16, it was great experience for the promising youngster who at least went out on a high by passing Richard Lawson excellently to bag his solitary race win.
At least the Saddlebow Road faithful could cheer a victory for their former racer Batchelor, now an integral part of Swindon's hopes for 2014 top-flight glory, though. He pipped Poole's Maciej Janowski to glory while Leicester's Jason Doyle finished third. Belle Vue's Matej Zagar missed out on a podium place.
Batchelor did it the hard by winning his semi after the impressive Zagar and Doyle had progressed from the 20 qualifying heats by top-scoring with 12 points. But he never really looked like he was going to beaten once the trophies were up for grabs.
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In front of a poor crowd, which was no surprise given the lack of world greats on show and close proximity to Monday's Elite League play-offs, the action was fast and competitive. Had Lynn duo Niels-Kristian Iversen and Kenneth Bjerre, replaced by Lambert, been riding the gate could have been better – and it certainly would have been had world champion Tai Woffinden not pulled out of the 23-heat championship to improve his chances of scoring well at tomorrow's Grand Prix in Sweden.
However, with 10 riders on show who will compete in the forthcoming play-offs, all did their best to put on a show for the watching masses.
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Stars supporters – many of whom opted to save their money for next week's huge play-off clash with Poole – did get to see two of their future prospects ride in the shape of James Cockle and Scott Campos. The Young Stars duo ride in the National League yet took to the shale twice as reserves to replace the withdrawn pair of Davey Watt and Peter Kildemand.
Cockle pipped his colleague in the 18th heat to claim a point and technically finish ahead of experienced, but out of sorts, Lakeside rider Watt who had another stinker.
Winner: Batchelor, runner-up: Janowski, third: Doyle, fourth: Zagar. Minor places - 5th: Pedersen (3rd in semi), 6th: Andersen (last in semi), 7th: Harris (9 points), 8th: Milik (8), 9th: Schlein (8), 10th: King (7), 11th: North (6), 12th: Thorssell (5), 13th: Lawson (4), 14th: Lambert (3), 15th: Kildemand (3), 16th: Watt (0)